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AWD

Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

https://www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzVansAustralia/ and @mercedesbenzvans_au on Instagram can be followed for more information as well as contact Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

Narva’s L.E.D.s Light The Way Offroad.

Aftermarket lighting supplier Narva introduced the Ultima 215 LED driving lights in 2017. An important feature of the Ultima 215 is that it meets the stringent requirements of CISPR 25 which is part of the ECE Regulation 10 for EMC, a feature that is sadly not evident in many other lamps on the market. By the way, CISPR is Comité International Spécial des Perturbations Radioélectriques or International Special Committee on Radio Interference.

Narva Marketing Manager, Jake Smith, said the company knew the lights would be popular but had not fully anticipated the spectacular market uptake. “Throughout the lamps development we were extremely excited about the lights’ performance and the potential impact they would have on the market. The 215 L.E.D lamps provide the latest technology, outstanding light output and the reliability and toughness Narva lights are known for and these qualities, coupled with a reasonable price point has struck accord with customers. The strength of our research, development and testing meant that the lamp was compliant with CISPR 25 on release, further broadening the appeal of the lamps, especially for emergency services applications where the avoidance of radio interference is critical.”The units have proved popular with the 4WD and travel industries. Former motorbike racer, Daryl Beattie, has turned his hand to running a travel company. One of his vehicles is a tough and sturdy IVECO 4×4 support truck which now sports two pairs of the 215s. Covering the rugged Canning stock route, the Simpson Desert, and routes that go to Cape York, Beattie says of the Narva 215 units: “They produce a staggering white light that’s easy on the eye and fills in the shadows way down the road ahead – they are the best spotties I’ve ever owned.” Daryl added:“After using the Ultima 215s, I can safely say they are the only L.E.D driving lights that I’ll be using on my adventures.”

The Ultima 215 L.E.Ds feature a class-leading hybrid beam pattern that combines volume for off-road use and long range performance for on highway transport applications. Each light is equipped with 33 x 5W (165W) XP-G2 Cree L.E.Ds that develop a pure white output (5700°K) and a penetrating light of 10,500 raw Lumens. As a pair, the lamps provide an impressive 1 Lux of brightness at 900 metres.

As well as using powerful Cree L.E.Ds, the performance is aided by the lights’ highly polished, aluminium, metallised reflectors which feature precisely scalloped parabolas for superior control and performance. The lamps feature die cast aluminium housing, ‘Active Thermal Management System’ allowing the lights to run harder for longer, while also incorporating a nitro breather vent and integrated DT connector, and are fully sealed against water and dust ingress to IP66 and IP67. Other benefits of the lamps include an L.E.D front position light to improve daytime driving visibility, virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens and see-through lens protector.

Naturally there’s a bespoke mounting harness and a five year warranty to back everything up. Narva is an Australian owned company and products can be found at reputable 4wd and offroad equipment stores.

Lamborghini Huracán Performante Goes Topless.

$532,635 Australian dollars, including taxes, excluding on the road costs. That how much the new Huracan Performante will cost. The what?
Here’s what it is.The Performante Syder will see a 0-100 km/h time of just 3.1 seconds thanks to its 5.2 l V10 naturally-aspirated engine. A permanent all wheel drive system helps it go further, with 0-200 km/h (0-124 mph) in 9.3 seconds A top speed of 325 km/h matches its coupé stablemate. Braking from 100-0 km/h is mastered in 31.5 m.

Like the Performante coupé, the Spyder outputs 640 hp (470 kW) at 8,000 rpm, producing 600 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm, and with more than 70% of torque already available at 1,000 rpm. Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automobili Lamborghini says: ““The Huracán Performante Spyder takes the zenith of Huracán developments, combined with the enhanced emotion of driving a convertible.”With a total dry weight of just 1,507 kg, the Spyder returns a weight-to-power ratio of 2.35 kg/hp, with weight distribution front/rear of 43/57%. Domenicali also said: “The Huracán Performante already provides the most heightened feedback and emotion from road and track, and the Huracán Performante Spyder puts the driver even closer to asphalt and air, as well as the unique resonance of a naturally-aspirated Lamborghini engine.”

Nissan X-Trail ST-L Petrol 7 Seater & TL Diesel 5 Seater AWD.

Twin Peaks.
Nissan is in the midst of both a SUV driven renaissance and some healthy sales. The X-Trail is at the heart of this and leads in a updated Qashqai due soon. I spend some time with the (almost) top of the tree X-Trail ST-L seven seater with the petrol engine and X-Trail TL diesel AWD.The seven seater ST-L sits one level below the top of the ST ladder, with the ST-L 4WD at the peak. The TL diesel AWD caps the TL range. There’s a choice of 2.0L or 2.5L petrol engines depending on the trim level in the ST. The 2.5L pumps out 126kW and 226Nm, at 6000 and 4400rpm. There’s 130kW and a very decent 380Nm from the 2.0L diesel, at 3750 and 2000rpm.Transmission for both is a CVT (Continually Variable Transmission) and as usual seems to sap the energy of relatively low torque petrol engines. Nissan’s not alone in this. The diesel is better but suffers from lag from idle. Tank capacity is 60L each. Consumption for the diesel is rated at 6.1L/100 km and the 2.5L petrol at 8.3L/100 km, both for the combined cycle. AWT pretty much matched the petrol figure at 8.5L/100 km. That’s reasonable for both considering the 1534kg and 1664kg tare weights.The petrol’s acceleration is leisurely in comparison to the diesel, even allowing for the diesel’s time to spool up into its torque range. However, the petrol is more linear, being a constant ramp up as opposed to the slightly more “build then bang” of the diesel. And although both are front wheel drive oriented, with the diesel being a switchable to Auto or All Wheel Drive, there’s little to no noticeable torque steer. That’s impressive more so in the diesel given the rev point when max torque takes effect. Once on song the diesel is a cracker and pulls the TL nicely, if with a bit more chatter than expected from modern diesels.The transmission is programmed with seven ratios and is quite effective in engine braking on a downhill run, and occasionally needed a nudge into Sports mode in order to drop the revs and ratio down. However the diesel’s transmission had an odd whine and a feeling of being held back, almost as if the parking brake was engaged.

Ride and handling varied between the two, with the steering in the ST-L feeling overly light, overly assisted. There’s less assistance and a more weighty feeling in the TL diesel. Actual ride comfort was almost identical, with the ST-L feeling just that SLIGHTLY less tied down, with a fraction more float and rebound. The TL diesel’s suspension is built with soft- and off-roading in mind and feels more composed and confident. The undulations found in Sydney’s freeways see both damp down quicker than other SUVs, with far less float and rebound than many other brands observed. Turn in and turning circle are better than Holden’s new Equinox, meaning shopping centre carpark living will be easier. That’s the trade off for the assistance.The exterior bears almost no resemblance to the X-Trail released in the late noughties. It features the new deep V nose cone now seen across the Nissan range, and a flowing, organic, set of sinuous curves from the front to rear. There’s angular headlight clusters, ineffective indicator lamps buried deep into the bottom corners near the grille, beautifully sculpted LED tail lights and a power tail gate in the TL. The ST-L rolls on 225/65/17 rubber encased in simple yet stylish ten spoke “tuning fork” alloys, the TL 225/55/19 with black painted machined alloys.Inside it’s a mixed reception. Overall fit and finish and trim appeal was high but visual appeal is an independent thing. Although of a rounded and mainly ergonomic design, the X-Trail’s interior from the driver’s perspective doesn’t quite feel as fresh as it could. There’s a tight gap between door trim and arm when reaching down to adjust the electric seats, the seven inch main touchscreen is a dull and uninspired design for the audio (DAB only found in ST-L and TL with Bose speakers), the driver’s info screen is a sad looking mauve and dotted affair.However, they are at least easy to read and use. The reverse camera is crisp and in both had a superimposed top-down 360 degree view. There’s a glass roof fitted in the TL. Oh, and those door arms have no grip handle where you’d expect to find them, but have a handle at a difficult fulcrum point. And there’s no wireless charging pad either…The seats themselves were spot on for support and comfort in both TL and ST-L however the rear pews in the ST-L are utterly compromised by the relative lack of useable space and can’t be recommended for anything other than short journeys. There’s heating (no venting) for the front seats in the ST-L and for front and second row in the TL. The TL’s rear space features two removeable cloth covered sections that reveal a plastic tub, one thats more user friendly for dirt work and for shopping.Capacity is 445L for the 7 seater, and the TL has 945L with the second row folded flat. The popular venting for cooling cans and bottles remains, with the centre console featuring room for two items side by side. The dash in the TL is of a more higher quality to look at, especially in the touchscreen surround, and both cars have analogue dials still for the speed and rev counter.Both review cars came fitted with a towbar ($1120 option) and the ST-L with a non-descript plastic nudge-bar (a $1200 option) at the front. The TL had a switch for trailer braking fitted in a cluster near where the driver’s right knee would be to assist in towing braking. The cluster also included an Eco on/off, stability/traction control on/off, and a switch for a heated steering wheel. There’s also a button for the rear powered tail gate.There’s plenty of standard equipment in both and across the range. Auto headlights, powered mirrors, sliding second row seats, Bluetooth streaming are common throughout teh range, with the ST-L and TL receiving Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Lane Departure Warning is standard on the TL and is somewhat sensitive, seeming to go off if you looked at the white or dotted lines.At the time of writing Nissan Australia was offering some sharp driveaway deals; the ST-L seven seater was $40817 for a 2018 model and $51192 for the diesel TL AWD. Naturally, these are subject to change so please check with your local Nissan dealer or enquire via 2017/2018 Nissan X-Trail info
Warranty is the standard three years or one hundred thousand kilometres and there’s a better than others three years roadside assistance package on offer.

At The End Of The Drive.
Nissan is doing something right with the X-Trail judging by the sheer amount seen in the two weeks the model spent at AWT HQ. The pick of the two is the diesel AWD, more so for the better handling feel the chassis exhibited. There’s a better ambience in the TL’s cabin and as an overall driving experience outweighs the ST-L. Those third row seats are compromised due to the sheer size of the X-Trail (4690mm length, 2705mm wheelbase).

If your need is for a dedicated seven seater, there’s other options out there that would be better. If you need a reasonable diesel AWD there’s still plenty of choice. But you’ll also need to consider that the Nissan X-Trail has been rated as the number one selling SUV for 2017. That, on its own, says a lot.

 

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V

As Holden transitions from a builder to an importer, an important part of the plan to do so successfully is to increase and improve its model range. The new Commodore is being rolled out, the new Astra sedan and hatch is in showrooms and the long serving Captiva is slowly being wound back as the new nameplate for the mid sized SUV takes over. Here is the 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V.The five model range starts with the LS. With the manual it kicks off the range at $27990 RRP (plus ORC). It’s $2000 for the auto. The LS+ is a $3000 premium over the LS and the first of the LT range at $36990. The LTZ/LTZ-V are $39990 and $46290 respectively. The AWD option on the LTZ is an extra $4300 however it’s standard on the LTZ-V and selected via a button in the front centre console.It’s a choice of two engines available. Both have a turbo and are a 1.5L or 2.0L capacity. A diesel is due later in 2018. The 1.5L will be found in the LS and LS+ with the 2.0L servicing the LT range. The LTs come with a nine speed auto as standard with the LS getting a six speed manual and auto.The auto has no paddle shifters nor side movement for manual changing. The selector in the LTZ-V has a + and – rocker switch on the top of the rather long throw selector. Holden say the Equinox should see the ton in around seven seconds. It’s slick and smooth under most driving situations however was caught out sometimes from start, with hesitant, jerking, unsure decisions initially.

The 2.0L produces 188kW and 353 torques with that peak torque on tap between 2500 – 4500 rpm. The 1.5L isn’t far off with 127kW and 275Nm. The preferred tipple of the 2.0L is 95RON. Combined fuel consumption is quoted as 8.4L/100km from the 59L tank in the LTZ-V. It’s 55L in the others. Economy finished at 9.0L/100 km.The LTZ-V gets plenty of high level tech and comes well loaded with standard equipment. However there’s really not that much to differentiate between it and the other LT models. A full length glass roof is one obvious difference. Driver friendly Advanced Park Assist in the LTZ and V is another. Auto levelling LED headlamps, LED tail lights, remote engine start (all LT models) and chrome roofrails complete that. The roof itself is moved via two tabs and they don’t have the same edge feel to know when you’ve got hold of them.The interior of the LTZ-V is a nice place with heating AND venting for both leather front seats. They look a little slabby but aren’t noticeable in lacking support. Surprisingly, gratefully, they’re there for the rear leather clad seats too with rear seat passengers getting a pair of USB ports, a 12V socket, rear air vents and a 230V socket. It’s of a different configuration than the Aussie 240V sockets so a converter for anything like a portable fridge will be needed.Full colour LCD screens greet the driver and passengers in the LTZ-V and light up in vivid blue. It’s a dash mounted eight inch touchscreen with Holden’s MyLink system on board for apps and entertainment, including a Bose speaker system to complement the DAB audio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The layout is clean and usage is largely intuitive. The sound itself is as expected from Bose and the sensitivity of the DAB tuner is better than that found in Kia’s Stinger. The upper dash is also Euro influenced, with the sweeping arc that runs from door to door and stitched soft material look and feel. There’s even a notch in the front console for wireless smartphone charging for compatible handsets.

The smaller screen for the driver has info made available via the rubberised arrows on the right hand spoke of the heated steering well. It’s not as easy to navigate as the same found in say a Mitsubishi or Kia but does the job well enough.All four windows are auto down, however just the driver gets auto up, which in a top of the range vehicle is an odd decision. The tail gate is power operated and can be opened and closed from afar via the remote plus there’s a tailgate height dial in the driver’s door near the bottle holder. Foot operating openin is available however is intended for use when your hands are full. There’s 848L or cargo space, a hidden storage locker between the main floor and space saving spare, and increases to 1796L with the rear seats folded.

Safety levels are high across the range with Autonomous Braking from the LS+ upwards, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. Following Distance Indicator and Forward Collision Alert with Head Up Alert (flashing red lights) and a vibrating seat cushion that gets input from the parking sensors is there as well. There’s no driver’s kneebag however. It’s this level of tech and features that has a slightly confused feel for AWT about the range structure.Outside it’s a mix of corporate GM and hints at the Astra sedan as being the base sheetmetal, especially at the rear. The noticeable Vee shaped nose and grille structure leads to a bonnet with deep scallops either side, a crease line from the top of the front wheel arch which joins the door handles front and rear to the tail lights. There’s a difference at the rear windowline, much like Ford’s Territory, in that the thicker part of the rear window is the C pillar, where the rear door meets the end of the car, rather than above the tail lights.Ride and handling from the McPherson strut front and four link independent rear is on the slightly taut side. It was never harsh but noticeable in that smaller bumps transmitted more into the cabin. The steering has a weighty feel, with minimal understeer at speed, but somehow the steering translates into a wider than expected turning circle which makes parking and three point turns not as easy as expected. It’ll shift lanes well enough though and do so with minimal fuss.

Being a predominantly front wheel drive car there were also occasional chirps from the front tyres when launched. Corners at speed were despatched with indifference, straight line stability is spot on, and that taut suspension pays for itself when dealing with the varying surfaces of the roads travelled, with dips, wallows, undulations, almost unfelt.The rolling stock is a decent size, with 19 inch alloys wrapped in 235/50 Ventus Prime rubber from Hankook. Although city oriented they did a credible job getting through and over enough rock, sand, gravel, and mud to show some off road cred. With AWD selected, the gear selector moved into L, and Hill Descent mode engaged, the LTZ-V, although not a dedicated off roader, managed some parts of AWT’s test track with only a few moments of will it/won’t it.Warranty is starting to lag, with just three years or 100,000 kilometres on offer. There is however a choice of extended warranty, for 12/24/36 months. There’s also free roadside assist for the first year with another two for free if you get your car serviced by Holden.

At The End Of The Drive.
Holden is still in a period of shaking down what it will deliver to Australian car buyers. With the LT and LS+ to be reviewed separately, the Holden Equinox LTZ-V has made a solid enough impression. It’s the similarity of features in the LT level that may not though have many people opting for the V spec with the glass roof and AWD systems as standard. With over $7000 difference between the two these two features on their own may be seen as unnecessary enough for many to not spend that extra.

There’s no doubt though that the 2.0L engine, the transmission, and the general fit and finish is high enough to wipe away any lingering doubts. Certainly, compared to a Japanese brand that will be also reviewed separately, it’s far ahead of what that car has and in LT form will more than likely have both the features and price point that will meed customer expectations.
Here’s where to find more: 2018 Holden Equinox

Mahindra Pik-Up Gets Update for 2018.

Some brands in Australia’s car industry seem to sail under the radar. Sometimes that’s a good thing as it gives the canny and investigative buyer a chance to stand out from the crowd. There’s also a sense of brand loyalty amongst those that do buy, and so it is with Mahindra. The Indian based conglomerate has released an update to the sturdy Pik-Up two and four door ute, covering the drivetrain, exterior and interior, and safety. The trim levels are named S6 and S10.
Drivetrain.
It’s a two body range, the dual cab and single cab (and S6 and S10 for both), with two and four wheel drive available for both. That’s available via a six speed manual attached to a small but grunty Euro V compliant diesel. The capacity is 2.2 litres, and peak power is 103 kilowatts. The important name and number is torque and there’s 330 of them, between 1600 to 2800. That’s smart engineering as it means driveability is enhanced in a real world situation.

In the 4WD versions, it’s a Borg-Warner transfer case putting that torque to the dirt through all four paws plus there’s an Eaton system that will lock the rear diff if slippage is detected.. Tank size is a massive 80 litres, not far off the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s 93L. Economy for the four door is quoted as 8.8L/100 km. There is a single cab due in 2018, with economy slated to be 0.2L/100km better. Towing is rated as 2500 kilograms, braked.Interior.
There’s the visible and invisible. Mahindra have upped the safety stakes, with ABS, collapsible steering column, Electronic Brake Distribution, front airbags as standard. For the family, there’s ISOFIX seat anchor points also as standard. Visibly there’s a six-inch touchscreen in the S10 (CD/MP3 campatoble head unit for the S6)which displays the reverse camera, along with cruise control and satnav, climate control, auto headlights and wipers. The driver’s dash display receives a 3D effect on the analogue dials for better visualisation. There’s an upright design to the dash itself, ensuring plenty of leg room for the driver and passenger, as do the rear sear passengers thanks to some well thought out packaging.Exterior.
The Pik-Up has always had a solid, bluff, look, and this stays. However, the S10 gets a classy mix of black chrome grille with subtle chrome highlights, a reshaped lower air intake for better engine breathing and aerodynamics, with both grille and intake receiving a visual update thanks to black mesh, and a subtle increase to the Mahindra badge.
There’s LED driving lights for the completely restyled headlights in the S10 and restyled foglights as well. Tyres will be P245/75 R16.Release Information and Pricing.
As of December 2017, there will be the 4×4 S6 single cab chassis at $26,990 driveaway. A 4×2 version will be available in early 2018 at $21,990. The 4×4 S6 dual cab will come with either a cab chassis or factory fitted “well side tub” at $26,490 and $29,990 respectively. The S10 trim level and tub takes it to $31,990. There’s a huge range of options available such as snorkel, tow ball set-up, and winch compatible steel bill bars, with more to come in 2018.

Colours are limited to a four choice palette: Napoli Black, Arctic White, Red Rage and De-sat Silver. Warranty is five years or 100,000 kilometres and also includes five years roadside assistance.
For more information on the 2018 Mahindra Pik-Up range, head here: Mahindra Australia

Car Review: 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S Sedan

Subaru‘s new for 2017 advertising campaign, Subaru Do, features the hatch and sedan version (starting at just under $25K) of their evergreen Impreza, in the same flaming red colour (one of eight for the 2018 Subaru Impreza range), so the prospective buyer can see the external difference between the two as they flick between them. What’s not so obvious is the refinement to the shape and certainly to the inside compared to the just superseded version. Private Fleet takes the red sedan, in 2.0i-S form, for a week after two weeks of the high riding hatch version, the XV.The interior changes are subtle; noticeable yet subtle, and it’s only when you have the previous and current version side by side that you see things such as a relocation of the armrest on the doors, the centre console storage bin (with two USB charging points), the redesign of the air-con and centre dash, even the sweep of the dash itself (with a lovely looking stitched style for the material) as it meets the windscreen glass. S spec also gets a sunroof with aircraft style overheard tabs for operation.You’ll get an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, set below the info screen as is traditional with the Impreza and its siblings (XV, Impreza hatch, Levorg, WRX)some obviously plasticky buttons (a slight step back from the indecisive touch tabs on the previous system), but there’s still room for a hard copy sound in the form of a CD slot. No DAB at the top end is an oversight, given the sheer variety of stations available.The plastics have a higher quality look and feel to them and the controls on the steering wheel have been redesigned for a more obvious yet stylish look. Even the seats seem to have a different feel. The seats in the S were black machine made leather, again with no cooling, and with all doors and sunroof shut, do not make for a comfy pew to plant the backside.Outside it’s tail lights and headlights, with the 460L boot and tail end receiving the C shaped LED inserts. It’s here that a slight oddity in the design manifests, with the reversing lamp in its own little section below the other lights in the cluster. It adds an awkward and unbalanced look to what could otherwise be an otherwise slim look as the trimmer cluster design would finish off the pert backside of the sedan nicely.

The headlights have been streamlined further, with the S getting LED illumination plus a chrome strip for an extra touch of visual class. The refinements as well has the overall profile, have the sedan looking more rakish and coupe like. It’s a tighter, cleaner, look with an overall more cohesive presence, including a slight reprofiling of the shut-line for the rear doors.The 2.0L engine is a willing revver and the CVT in the sedan, much like the XV, is easy to use, easy to drive, and works well. However, this particular transmission was somewhat indecisive and juddery. However, it’s worth noting that this behaviour was more noticeable when it was cold and hadn’t been driven. Manual mode, again, seems to make little difference in speed of change.

However, when everything is in synch, the 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm work to deliver an average fuel consumption around town of 8.4L/100 kilometres from the fifty litre tank holding standard 90RON unleaded, or a combined figure of a more reasonable 6.6L/100 km. We saw those figures in the real world.Ride and handling showed the sedan’s rear end somewhat less prone to the bottoming out as experienced in the XV yet still doesn’t feel as tied down as the front. What you get is more travel at the rear and when loaded up with a standard load of groceries, it’s on the bump-stops just that little easier. The steering lightens just a little though, thankfully ensuring you’re still in contact and being told what the front wheels are doing. With no weight in the back, it’s naturally more connected, with a small measure of sponginess the further left or right you wind on lock.

The all wheel drive system that underpins Subaru is noticeable for feeling like…a rear wheel drive car at some times and a front wheel drive at others. Never does it feel as if it’s confused nor confusing for the driver. Grip isn’t compromised either, thanks to Yokohama‘s brilliant Advan rubber, in this case a 225/40/18 set on gorgeous ten spoke alloy and painted wheels.The Eyesight system fitted to CVT equipped models is a ripper; not only can it sense a vehicle’s distance ahead of yours, it’ll activate an emergency sound if you’re too close and the computers sense you haven’t touched the brake. It’ll allow distance related cruise control and will also alert if the vehicle in front, when you’ve stopped, has moved on. There’s a swag of other safety features including Blind Spot Alert, parking assistance from front and rear sensors (not fitted to all models though), Hill Hold Assist, Lane Change Assist and more.

There’s seven airbags including the driver’s knee, and load limiting pretensioning seatbelts up front. Naturally it adds up to be a safe car to be in and comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating. That’s backed by a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five year warranty an option (talk to your dealer or broker) which is available to be transferred to a new owner within the warranty period.At The End Of The Drive.
There’s really not a lot to find fault with inside the Impreza sedan in 2.0Li-S spec, including a great price (at the time of writing) of $33K driveaway. No DAB, (a first world problem), no cooling in the seats (a must for an Australian market car), and a softish ride are more than balanced by good looks, great dynamics, useful economy, and a classy style & finish to rival other Japanese, Korean, and European competitors.

In fact, with the Impreza for 2018, Subaru can put this in the middle of that group and smile broadly, in full confidence it will more than hold its own. The sales figures reflect that for 2017, with the XV variant leading the charge whilst the sedan itself is up by 163% on a Year To Date basis, with 988 new homes for it in October, plus the brand itself celebrates its 34th month in a row of increased sales.

Here’s where you can go for more info and book a drive: 2018 Subaru Impreza range

AWD v FWD v RWD

Traction

When it comes to buying your new vehicle, should it be FWD (Front Wheel Drive), RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) or AWD (All Wheel Drive)?  How the car gets shoved along might not matter to many drivers, however there are some differences between the driving layouts that are worth pointing out.  There are some changes occurring where car manufacturers are adopting a new layout for certain key reasons, and we’ll see why shortly.  What type of drive system you prefer really depends on what kind of a driver you are and the conditions you usually find yourself drive in.

Let’s take a look at the three types for drive trains and note the differences.

Firstly we’ll start with RWD, mainly because this can be lots of fun to drive.  A RWD car has a simple design where the drive shaft runs the length of the vehicle: from the engine to the rear wheels.  The design is generally simple and rugged.  It’s less likely to break when running over a curb or large pothole.  FWD vehicles are more complex, and with the added weight over the front axle the chances you’re going to break something in the FWD design is more likely.  FWD set-ups incorporate half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints that are more susceptible to damage than a RWD car’s solid axle.

RWD cars usually have a slightly better weight distribution (not as heavy at the front end compared with a FWD car), creating better handling because of this.  A RWD car spreads the weight of its drivetrain more evenly front-to-rear.  But an issue with the RWD layout can arise when the road conditions get slippery.  Rain, snow and ice create scenarios where loss of traction at the rear becomes more likely in a RWD car.

FWD cars do, however, provide better economy – not only in fuel consumption but also in manufacturing costs.  With fewer parts the drivetrain is easier and cheaper to mount into the car as it progresses down the assembly line.  FWD cars are often lighter than RWD equivalents thanks to the design not having to use separate transmission and axle assemblies used in a RWD car.  Reduction in weight leads to better fuel economy on the road, and this is a big draw card for new car buyers.

In certain conditions FWD offers better traction compared with a RWD car.  In the rain and snow, FWD gets better traction on the driving wheels because the front wheels have the extra engine and transaxle weight sitting on top of the front driving wheels – which helps to get better grip in slippery conditions.  Also, the front wheels are pulling rather than pushing the car along, aiding steering control in poor road conditions.

Being nose heavy, FWD cars aren’t usually quite as nimble and fast through the corners as RWD cars. When road conditions allow for higher speeds to be attained, FWD cars have to steer and drive the car with extra weight at the front.  This is why very few “serious” performance cars are FWD.  Maintenance costs are higher compared with RWD, so new bits like CV joints and boots will need to be replaced as the kilometres pass by.

This leaves us with AWD, and the best thing about AWD is that it gives some of the advantages of both RWD and FWD.  The number one advantage of AWD is excellent traction in dry and wet road conditions.  Some AWD designs lean slightly toward the front wheels doing more work, while others lean more toward the rear wheels doing more of the work.  The RWD-based versions are usually more performance-oriented but any of the AWD cars will do a top job of balancing the car’s handling and driving dynamics.

AWD cars do cost more to buy compared with RWD and FWD cousins.  This is because they cost more to produce with all the extra drive train components.  The extra running gear also costs more to maintain.  AWD systems are also heavier drive systems which makes for higher fuel consumption.  The higher fuel consumption, higher production costs and higher maintenance costs will put some buyers off, however a die-hard Subaru fan will have you think otherwise.  For ultimate performance, the AWD system can’t be beaten.

There are electronic traction control systems and driver aids that are getting better-and-better which do aid both the car’s handling and performance characteristics, as well as safety.  And, particularly in variable road conditions that might be wet and slippery, these extra electronic control systems can’t be beat.  These systems are widely used in many FWD, RWD and AWD cars.

The trend is that new car buyers are looking for more SUV and all-purpose vehicles to buy.  It has become simpler for automakers to reconfigure FWD models into AWD formulas where the AWD system is front-wheel power biased.  We are seeing more of these vehicle types on our road, which also means there is a decline in new RWD cars being bought.

Just for interest sake: Holden are still keeping the Commodore name, however the new Commodore won’t have a rear-wheel drive variant.  Instead, it’ll be offered in a front-wheel drive configuration for mainstream models, while a naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 AWD model will be the performance model in the line-up.  With a nine-speed automatic gearbox, no differential with dual-clutch control systems controlling front and rear wheels independently, and torque vectoring the AWD model will be a performer.

Holden Commodore AWD

Also interesting is that BMW Motorsport engineers are looking to produce M-badged cars with an AWD model as well as a RWD variant.  With BMW’s M cars getting so powerful, the boss of BMW’s M Division, Frank van Meel, said that it’s getting hard to sell M cars without AWD in markets like Canada and Switzerland where conditions are slippery.

BMW M5 AWD

There is only so much horsepower you can put through two wheels before obtaining the grip needed to accelerate fast is compromised.  Even with the best traction and launch control aids, 2WD systems are beaten by AWD systems, and when engines have such immense power now, AWD is the only logical step forward for performance car manufacturers like BMW.  Audi, Porsche and Nissan already have plenty of experience with AWD performance models.